Starting or Growing Your Junior Firefighter Program
By Lyle Holland, FASNY Recruitment and Retention Committee
With the new school year starting soon, it’s time to think about your junior firefighter program or maybe even starting one.
From my own personal experience, it’s much easier to get into the schools at the beginning of their year to inquire about opportunities to attract the youth into the fire service. Depending on the program you have or what you are interested in starting, the classes that would attend need to be age-appropriate to that specific program.
Explorer or Venture posts through the Boy Scouts of America can start as young as age 14. If you have or want to start a junior firefighter program, the starting age is usually 16, but may vary around the state.
FASNY has a High School Recruitment Tool Kit that can help you get going in the recruitment stage. Most of the things in the toolbox are set up for use with a computer. Check with the school to obtain what you need to present your program if equipment is needed.
If you look around your department, I’m pretty sure you have people that can help with setting up a presentation that is specific to your organization. Personalize your presentation just by adding pictures of your fire hall, trucks and members. The FASNY tool kit has a list of tips for a successful presentation, along with PowerPoint guidelines and talking points to go by.
OK … it’s time to get started! As the students come into the room, have something up on a screen to attract their attention. For example, you can use a movie clip that plays continuously while welcoming them into the space you will be using. This is available in the High School Recruitment Tool Kit.
Once everyone is in and seated, run a video that is full of action and loud music to get the students excited about what you are going to talk about. This can also be found in the tool kit. Once you have their attention, go to the PowerPoint portion of the program. If you have young firefighters in your department, have them talk to the students about
If you have young firefighters in your department, have them talk to the students about fire, EMS, rescue and whatever other services your department has to offer. The younger members can relate to fellow students better. That’s not to say that you can’t have an older member who is full of enthusiasm do a great job but the audience will relate more with ones closer to their own age.
Some schools require students to put in a certain number of hours doing community service – belonging to your program would also benefit the students for this purpose, which is a win-win situation!
Get your High School Recruitment Tool Kit, including PowerPoint, video, tips and brochures at www.recruitny.org/hsrecruitment